Oregon February Unemployment Numbers Best Since 1995

SALEM, Ore. — A report released Tuesday shows Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8% in February, down from 5.1% in January. The last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was this low was in April 1995, when the rate was also 4.8 percent. A year ago, in February 2015, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.

Oregon’s labor force has grown rapidly. During the past two years, Oregon’s labor force grew by nearly 100,000 individuals to reach an all-time high of 2,018,000 in February 2016. Key factors boosting the labor force include rapid job growth, in-migration, and growth in new entrants to the labor force.

In January, Oregon tied for second in the nation for over-the-year job growth, with a 3.4 percent gain. Idaho, which grew 3.9 percent, was the fastest-growing state. Following close behind were Tennessee (3.4%), Florida (3.3%), Utah (3.0%), and Washington (3.0%). Six states, mostly in oil and natural gas producing areas, actually lost jobs in the past year. This comparison is for non-farm payroll employment growth between January 2015 and January 2016, which is the most recent 12-month period available for all states.

Oregon’s payroll employment grew by 4,300 in February, following a gain of 9,300, as revised, in January. The February gain was close to the average monthly pace seen over the past three years.

In February, rapid growth continued in several of the major industries that have expanded the fastest over the year. Construction added 1,900 jobs in February and gained 4,200, or 5.1 percent, since February 2015. Professional and business services added 1,400 in February and 11,700 in the past 12 months. Health care and social assistance added 1,400 over the month and 9,200 over the year.

Meanwhile, three major industries cut jobs in February: private educational services (-1,500 jobs), manufacturing (-700), and other services (-600). Each of these industries has expanded since February 2015, but at a slower rate than the overall private sector.

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